This Is How I Roll: Freedom in Role-Playing Games

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This Is How I Roll: Freedom in Role-Playing Games

Post by This Old Neon » 06 Jan 2015 12:40

This Is How I Roll: Freedom in Role-Playing Games
by Jörn Oehlerking


Among all the different genres of video games, one of the most diverse is the role-playing game (RPG). It has always been hard to define what an RPG actually is, which has given rise to subcategories like action-RPG, tactical-RPG, dungeon-crawler, and JRPG. The Mass Effect games are often referred to as RPGs, but they play like third-person shooters, while Dark Souls is often called an RPG, but it plays like an action game with a strong emphasis on the player’s reflexes. Many elements commonly associated with RPGs, like experience, levels, attributes, or skills, have infiltrated every other genre, making it even harder to pinpoint unique features. A look at the pen-and-paper origins of the genre can help us understand what made it so compelling as it evolved: an amount of freedom that isn’t found in other games.

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Re: This Is How I Roll: Freedom in Role-Playing Games

Post by MerlinDrazziw » 06 Jan 2015 15:04

Never played a paper version of a RPG although I had the chance to do so (Star Trek themed RPG) at special meetings. It always looked like the explaining part took more time than the actual playing time. May have to try it someday, when I get the chance again. As for videogames, it's not my favorite genre. Graphics usually look nice and the stories do attract me, but the mechanics can be offsetting. I've played some RPGs, but it's been a hit and miss in liking them. It's always a gamble for me and I usually skip the 'big' titles.
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Re: This Is How I Roll: Freedom in Role-Playing Games

Post by Sharecrow » 06 Jan 2015 15:50

I've never, ever done a pen and paper RPG like D&D. I didn't have access to that sort of thing really back in the day. The extent of my non-video game RPG playing was Fighting Fantasy books, as many of you know. You have a few stats, do fights with enemies using regular dice, and proceed through a Choose Your Own Adventure type of story with multiple paths.
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Re: This Is How I Roll: Freedom in Role-Playing Games

Post by Kong Wen » 06 Jan 2015 15:57

Sharecrow wrote:I've never, ever done a pen and paper RPG like D&D. I didn't have access to that sort of thing really back in the day. The extent of my non-video game RPG playing was Fighting Fantasy books, as many of you know. You have a few stats, do fights with enemies using regular dice, and proceed through a Choose Your Own Adventure type of story with multiple paths.
Someone really ought to do a kind of book-review/game-review hybrid on one of those books. They're such an interesting and overlooked genre.
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Re: This Is How I Roll: Freedom in Role-Playing Games

Post by VictorViper » 06 Jan 2015 18:01

My friends and I played AD&D basically throughout highschool and for the most part, it was spent in one massive campaign. Our good friend Jeff was basically born to be a DM, and he adopted Kiwi's storytelling strategies right out of the gates. The fluidity of this approach led to dozens of snap decisions and turns of "fate" that would have otherwise been impossible. The decision making, collusion, encounters and above all consequences of those impromptu events are ultimately some of my most treasured experiences in gaming, and some of the best times spent with my best friends. Video games to date haven't even scratched the surface of what's possible when 5 or 6 (in this case demented) minds get together.

I should mention that this open-ended approach meant that we spent a little more than five years(!) on this campaign and hadn't come close to finishing when we went off to college and "disbanded". This might sound like a downside to unrestrained gaming, but it's impossible for me to look at it that way.
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Re: This Is How I Roll: Freedom in Role-Playing Games

Post by Kong Wen » 06 Jan 2015 18:28

I have a similar experience, Vic, except I was the designated DM. Had a group of friends who didn't necessarily all play together, but all played within an interlinked world where each of their sub-campaigns affected the others and sometimes would cross over. This went on for probably 7-8 years? Long enough that the very first generation of characters all died off and/or were deified. Lots of ridiculous stories grew out of those sessions.
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Re: This Is How I Roll: Freedom in Role-Playing Games

Post by Kiwi the Tortoise » 06 Jan 2015 18:46

I also had an opposite experience.
A friend ran a pre-made adventure which was pretty much a fantasy-murder-mystery story in an Agatha Christie style.
Basically a bunch of heirs getting killed off one by one. It was very easy to figure out who was the killer and why, however the adv. was designed to activly prevent the players from interfering. The result was super frustrating to play, since you weren't a player but forced into the position of a spectator until the game at the finale finally allowed you to do something (which was pre-determined aswell).
While my friend did a good job at running said adventure, it was badly designed from the get-go. Pretty much the antipode of what I describe in the article.
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